Help a first time gun owner pick a handgun

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by Yabadaba, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. Yabadaba

    Yabadaba New Member

    Hey there, this is my first day on the forum. I will be moving out of my parents place in roughly a year and living aboard a sailboat (yes, I know it's crazy). But I don't want to be out on a boat on my own where no help would be able to come for a while if I got into trouble. So I would like to feel secure in knowing I would have a way to defend myself. My fists wouldn't do it, I'm 5'8" and only 150 lbs. What would be a good hand gun for a first time gun owner interested in self defense? I was thinking of getting either a 1911 or a glock, although I am open to suggestions and more than willing to trust someone else's expertise on the subject since I know very little about guns.
    schnuffleupagus likes this.
  2. headspace

    headspace Well-Known Member

    Welcome Yabadaba!:)
    Please don't take offence - I mean this in the kindest way, but in order to make sure you and everyone else stays safe, you need to get your priorities in line. Training first, then choose a gun. I mean, I don't know the first darned thing about sailing. So I wouldn't ask you (who obviously knows a lot about it) what kind of sailboat I should buy before I got some training in sailing.
    It sounds like you've got a year. That's plenty of time to get some training and mentoring in firearm safety and shooting. If you lived close (we're in SE Idaho) I'd gladly do what I could to train and mentor you myself.
    Again, welcome!:)

  3. Yabadaba

    Yabadaba New Member

    Lol, no offense taken at all. I realise I have A LOT to learn about firearms. I don't have a problem with people just wanting to make sure myself and others are safe. (That's why people buy guns. At least the law abiding ones)
    Unfortunately I don't live very near Idaho (welcome from Virginia by the way!)
    But I've given myself a year to get everything together so that I can be prepared before I head off. Maybe if I had another crew member I wouldn't mind setting sail as soon as a month or two.
    I just figured it might be best to ask first what gun might be a good fit for the situation and then practice with that at a gun range. I did post this same question in a handful of other forums and so far have gotten only one other reply. A member of the gunner forum suggested a revolver instead of a semi auto. Do you think that might be a better idea? Or do you think something else might be a better fit?
    Brian138 and headspace like this.
  4. headspace

    headspace Well-Known Member

    Alright Yabadaba!:) I really like your attitude, and you sound like someone I'd like to get to know.
    You'll probably get a whole bunch of opinions, but yeah, in my opinion, a revolver (particularly a 4" to 6" 38/357 revolver) is the best choice for a first home/sailboat defense handgun. And that's coming from someone who carried a little 9mm semi-auto to church yesterday, and has a 45 ACP 1911 by his bedside.
    It's just that I think revolvers are a little easier for beginners to learn with, and they are reliable. You might have already heard the phrase "six for sure." While many semi-auto aficionados scoff at that phrase, there's a lot of truth to it. Besides, nowadays there are a lot of "8 for sure" revolvers out there.
    As for my recommending a 38/357 revolver, you can run relatively inexpensive 38 Specials through it for practice, and load it with +P 38 Specials or 357 Magnums for home/sailboat defense.
    Oh, and just one more recommendation; for keeping on your sailboat, I'd get a stainless handgun. Stainless handguns are a little more rust resistant. Not that stainless guns are impervious to rust, you still have to maintain them, but it's a little easier. Both Smith and Ruger build several stainless, 38/357 handguns.
    BTW, if you're looking for a handgun for concealed carry, that's a different discussion. And as far as duel purpose, home defense/concealed carry guns go, I've never found a good one. But that's just me. I'm not that big, and trying to conceal my best home defense handgun, my full sized 1911, would be a real pain.
  5. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator Lifetime Supporter

    Welcome, fellow Virginian! What part of the Old Dominion?

    And you have already gotten some good advice. If you are at least 21, I would also suggest you find a range that rents handguns, and try a few different ones.

    I would also suggest that for a good sized boat, the best handgun may be a pump shotgun.
  6. boatme98

    boatme98 Well-Known Member

    Yabadaba, welcome to the forum.
    Lots of good advice here. As far as weapon choice, I agree with a stainless or marinized shotgun for the vessel. Also, a 357/38 with shotshells.

    Now, on to the other and perhaps more important item.
    It sounds like your going to actually cruise as opposed to just being a live aboard.
    You had better start checking ALL state and federal rules concerning the transport of firearms! Generally the state you are cruising through dictates your ability to carry. Think NY, NJ, Ma, etc.

    Also, is the vessel to be registered in the state or documented through the feds? It makes a difference!
    If you are going to be cruising, I would recommend documenting the boat. It gives you certain protections, Chief among them, who can board your vessel and where.
    Make no mistake, you will be boarded.
    And what do you think the first question is? "Do you have any firearms aboard?"
    Documentation prevents every local yahoo from boarding you. They can stop you and even fine you for anything but if they want to board and search, they have to contact a federal agency (usually CG) to actually board.

    Of course if you're travelling to foreign ports, everything changes! That way too much to get into here.

    And like everything else, do not depend on anecdotal information, even mine! Always remember, most recreational boaters are completely ignorant of rules and actual laws! Spend the next year researching. Check with the Coast Guard, state sailing associations, and the countries you're interested in visiting.

    Oh, and one last thing. If you haven't already done so and you dont have Captains certificate, Please, Please, at least sign up for the FREE USCG Safe Boating Course! You'll be glad you did.
    headspace and c3shooter like this.
  7. Bigcat

    Bigcat Well-Known Member


    I also live in Virginia.
    (currently Richmond but may go back up to NoVa soon)
    I do a certain amount of teaching new shooters also...

    Some gun ranges have very reasonable instruction and you can rent different styles of guns.
    Where in VA are you at?

    Among the simplest to use gun are Revolvers.
    Even though they are not the cheapest handguns i tend to recommend them for new shooters.

    A 4 inch .357 Magnum (which can also shoot the cheaper/softer 38SPC) is a great beginners gun.
    If you do decide to go with a magazine fed handgun as a new shooter I strongly recommend you pick one with an external safety (not all of them have those).

    Since you are in VA, is a great resource for used firearms..

    Also in Virginia Green Ops is an excellent resource.
    Some of the best instructors out there..

    Tell them you are a new shooter and they will take extra care for you.
    Who knows they might even rent u a gun or direct you where to rent one..

    Coming up in a week:
    headspace likes this.
  8. Sniper03

    Sniper03 Supporting Member Supporter

    Welcome from Tennessee. When the time comes, as the others have mentioned. Get with someone who is skilled to assist you with training. A lot of your larger gun stores have ranges and also trainers with experience and knowledge. Take a few lessons on how to do things correctly. Then if you can find a location that rents pistols or will provide a pistol for you to try out on their Range.
    This way you can see which one fits you the best. That means the correct anatomical fit for you personally and also ease of operation, other features and also to experience which caliber would be best for you. And what you will be using it fore. *Usually Larger Pistols or Revolvers would be more suitable as home protection, hunting, or open carry. But they are not as easily concealed and are bulkier and heavier than a smaller pistol. Smaller pistols or Revolvers are not normally a good choice if you are going to do a lot of target shooting and put an abundance of rounds through them. They are made for concealment and self defense. And not so much for long time endurance when continually fired. However for their intended purpose of self defense there is no durability issues at all. That doesn't mean you should not shoot them on occasion to improve and maintain your proficiency. OMI. Wishing you luck on your selection.

  9. Bobbidoll

    Bobbidoll New Member

    Pump is a good choice, might try a bull pup, with a revolver in your pocket just to be safe.
  10. RJF22553

    RJF22553 Well-Known Member

    Yabadaba, welcome to the forum from a fellow Virginian (Spotsylvania)! Good advice from all. You may also want to sign up with a gun group (like NRA, VCCA, GOA, etc.): they often offer training/lessons/gun safety, and MAY have a smattering of guns to try out. In order to get a CCP in VA, you will required certified training, which can be done on-line (not recommended).

    Stainless steel is the way to go on a boat. And get a good "gun sock" to store it in.
    headspace likes this.
  11. Chainfire

    Chainfire Well-Known Member Supporter

    Here is a hint; Search the NRA website for a "First Steps" pistol class in your area. Don't take a shortcut and take the class at a gunshow with 100 other people, you won't get much out of it. The class will give you a lot of information in a short period of time. They will give you the knowledge, skills and attitude to go to a gun range without feeling like you are in a foreign world. Once at a good range you can rent handguns and hopefully find one that works for you.

    Good luck, hangunning can be a lot of fun as well as providing some measure of security for you and your family.
    schnuffleupagus likes this.
  12. IowaShooter

    IowaShooter Well-Known Member Supporter

    Welcome from Iowa

    Lots of good info and great people here
  13. jackrich3

    jackrich3 Well-Known Member Supporter

    I believe the S&W (Talo) 686 with the 3” barrel will suit your needs. 38/357 7rnd SS.
    headspace likes this.
  14. laflaone

    laflaone New Member

    The key words in your OP are "first time gun owner." To learn with, and become accustomed and comfortable with a handgun, I would suggest you get a .22 semiautomatic. I'm partial to the Ruger new MkIV's. The .22 is a must first gun to learn with. Small recoil, not very loud, and the ammo is cheap! Take a beginners handgun course, then go to the range or somewhere out in the country, and bust a lot of caps! After you get comfortable with it, step up to a 9mm Glock 17. One of the best, most reliable handguns made. Best of luck.
    schnuffleupagus likes this.
  15. schnuffleupagus

    schnuffleupagus Well-Known Member

    a very strange question for me. I came from a family where brothers and fathers and cousins all had rifles and pistols, I had a list by the time I was 18 that I am trying to fill.

    Basic shooting safety
    Hunter Safety Card

    team up with someone you trust. Find a range that rents. Find a weapon you can afford and afford to shoot.

    My first pistol purchase was a Smith 459. I slice that pistol.
  16. Daoust_Nat

    Daoust_Nat Well-Known Member Supporter

    Welcome to the forum, and I agree with Headspace and C3. I would also suggest maybe a pistol caliber carbine. On a sea that is always moving a shotgun or rifle might be more stable a platform to sight and shoot accurately.
    headspace likes this.
  17. Missouribound

    Missouribound Well-Known Member

    Yabadaba...I can't add anything, but follow the advice given here. You are in good hands.
  18. PISTON1246

    PISTON1246 Active Member

    I like the Glock 17 and think it is a good choice for a first timer if you are looking for a semi auto. I put 50 shots on a man sized target out to 25yds my first time.

    I experienced better groups with 2 revolvers I shot when I was a teenager. I don't know that make and model of them.

    You don't need tools to field strip and clean a Glock but a Ruger GP100 needs a screwdriver for field stripping.